News and Events
HELP CONTINUE THE COMMITMENT TO SAFETY this Spring by supporting the enhancement of the security system at the House.
Families traveling from far away for medical care face numerous concerns while navigating the challenging transplant journey. For those coming from out of town, feeling safe and secure while in an unfamiliar environment such as a large city, is essential for their peace of mind.
At Gift of Life Howie’s House, ensuring guests feel safe during their stay has always been a top priority and an integral part of the overall mission. That’s why multiple measures are in place to make sure guests feel as comfortable as possible when walking through the House doors.
From the secure perimeter gate that encloses the facility to the overnight security guards and surveillance system, the goal is to ease the mind of the families who stay at the House as soon as they arrive.
As part of our commitment to providing the safest environment possible for guests, House staff continuously assess our systems for the most up-to-date improvements.
This year, an upgrade to the existing security camera and public announcement system is planned, and the House is calling on the support of the community to help complete the project in 2024.
Your support of this important project will help families like the Bachers, who said they relied on the safety and security that the House provided during their stay.
Mike Bacher was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy over 16 years ago, a heart disorder which he contracted from a viral infection. Mike and his wife Jo-Ann live in Lewes, Delaware, a rural beach community over 2 and half hours away from Philadelphia.
For years, Mike managed the disease, until his condition started to quickly worsen at the beginning of 2022. Mike’s doctors suggested he get listed for transplant, so they made the journey to Philadelphia to begin his evaluation.
Traveling into the city from a rural setting, they didn’t know what to expect before arriving to the House. Mike shared that as soon as he saw the facility, he knew he made the right choice.
“It was a huge relief. I couldn’t have imagined anything nicer and safer. I was pretty apprehensive about coming into Philly at all, and I didn’t know what area we were going to be in until we got there,” Mike said. “We were pleasantly surprised to find what a nice place it was.”
“I couldn’t have imagined anything NICER and SAFER.“
“At first, I noticed all the security cameras inside, I wasn’t used to the place and didn’t know anyone so that made me feel very secure. It was like being in a hotel…even pulling into the gate and not having to worry about where I was going to park my car made a huge difference.”
After Mike was admitted to the transplant waiting list, he didn’t have to wait long. Only 11 days after being listed, Mike received his life-saving heart transplant thanks to an organ donor hero.
While he recovered in the hospital, Jo-Ann remained at the House to stay close to him while their two daughters, Heather and Melissa, would visit periodically to provide support.
“This facility was a lifesaver, providing a safe environment for my family to allow them to visit through this whole ordeal. I spent a total of 56 days in the hospital, and they were there through almost all of that,” explains Mike.
Mike’s family was so grateful for the services the House provided that they have since given back to the mission by hosting a successful Facebook fundraiser, serving a meal through the Home Cook Heroes program, and now support the annual fund!
“This facility was a LIFESAVER, providing a safe environment for my family…”
Post-transplant, Mike and his family have been traveling as much possible, including a recent trip to the Floridia Keys that had been rescheduled twice due to his health complications. Jo-Ann and Mike say they are trying to travel as much as possible and make the most of every day.
THIS SPRING, HELP SUPPORT THE COMFORT OF FAMILIES LIKE THE BACHERS
by supporting the upgrade of the security camera and public announcement systems.
Over a decade ago, past guest and lung transplant recipient, Sandra Pabon, faced a life-altering diagnosis of Lupus. This chronic autoimmune disease causes one’s immune system to attack the body’s tissues and organs. Over the next few years, the disease began to damage Sandra’s lungs, and she was diagnosed with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF).
After years of battling her condition, Sandra’s doctors suggested the only path to survival – a life-saving lung transplant. In 2016, she joined the waiting list, but her journey was far from over.
Sandra faced a challenging road because of the limited availability of compatible donors. Five long years passed, and it seemed as though her family had accepted the harsh reality that a matching lung might never come.
Then, in March of this year, the phone call that would forever change Sandra’s life arrived.
Keeping Families Close
Sandra received the call that a match from an organ donor hero had been found for her, and she received her life-saving lung transplant the next day. There were some complications, however, and Sandra had to remain undersedation for four months in the ICU to minimize the signs of rejection.
It was during this time Sandra’s family utilized Gift of Life Howie’s House to remain close to her. Sandra’s husband, David, made a promise to never leave her side while in the hospital, and the House made keeping that promise possible.
David stayed at the House for over six months while Sandra was in the hospital and recovering. Their children, who had all moved home to help the family, were also able to visit whenever they could.
KelseyOne of Sandra’s daughters
Sandra Had to undergo intensive physical therapy for many weeks after she came out of sedation. Her family continued to stay at the House during this time.
Recently, Sandra was able to return home to Pennsylvania and is eagerly looking forward to driving again, taking care of her house, and making up for lost time with loved ones. She emphasizes that she is forever grateful to the House for allowing her family to care for her when she needed them most.
You can light the way home for families like Sandra’s today by donating to Gift of Life Howie’s House here.
By making a gift today, you are helping to “Light the Way Home” for the many families staying at the House this holiday season. Every donation, regardless of its size, makes a significant difference in these families’ lives, offering them hope and a path forward during their darkest hours.
Your support will help bridge the gap between our low nightly fee of $40 and the actual cost to provide our services, which is $175 a night. It will also help keep the promise of never turning away a family who cannot afford the nightly fee.
A special incentive to make your gift even more meaningful:
For those who donate $250 or more, your name will be placed on a beautifully crafted paper house, illuminated as a symbol of your support. They will be displayed around Gift of Life Howie’s House and serve as a reminder to our guests that there are compassionate individuals helping to ease their journey and “Light the Way Home.”
If you can offer a special gift of $250 or more, you’ll also become a cherished member of the Family Circle.
At Gift of Life Howie’s House, guests are provided with a private bedroom and bathroom that comes equipped with many of the necessities that families rely on when away from home. Many of those guests, however, experience limited mobility due to significant physical challenges that come with transplant and request rooms that are more accessible
Approximately 25% of guests make these requests. Unfortunately, many have to wait for a more accessible room to become available.
“You never know when you go somewhere if it’s going to be accessible, so knowing that we had this room where he could maneuver was a relief. It allowed him to have his privacy and independence, and I could have a little bit of free time as well. Even if it’s ten minutes where I could read a book while he showers, it makes a difference,”– Donna Nelson, Past House Guest
Out of 32 guest rooms, only 5 have bathrooms that are equipped with walk-in showers. For some guests, navigating over the wall of a tub can be incredibly challenging or even impossible. Many patients require the use of a shower chair, which is also difficult to maneuver in an already tight space with a wet surface, like the bathtub.
Replacing a bathtub with a walk-in shower makes getting in and out much easier on both the patient and the caregiver. Guests with limited mobility do not have to worry about navigating over the wall of the tub, and those who require the use of a wheelchair have easier access inside of the bathroom and can transfer to a shower chair more smoothly.
Learn more about our campaign in our Spring 2023 Newsletter.
Spring Campaign 2023
Support the construction of four new, more accessible showers at the House.
June 29th, 2022, was an extraordinary day like no other. On this beautiful, sunny Wednesday, Gift of Life Family House was officially renamed as Gift of Life Howie’s House to honor former President and CEO, Howard M. Nathan.
The celebration kicked off with a day event honoring Howard where current and former staff came together to commemorate all of Howard’s accomplishments. Guests enjoyed good food and laughter while our guest speakers, John Edwards, Brian Hamilton, Kevin Sparkman, and John Abrams all shared special memories from working with Howard throughout his long, incomparable career.
Following this luncheon, the festivities continued to further recognize Howard’s immeasurable contributions with an evening event for Howard’s friends, family, colleagues and close members of the transplant community. Delicious food, drinks, live music and special guest speakers made for a truly unforgettable night. The distinguished guest speakers included Dr. Barbara Wadsworth, Dr. Clyde Barker, Phyllis Weber, David Fleming, and Brian Zionts-Bernstein, who all laid testimony to the tremendous impact Howard has made on the community.
Both events wrapped up with remarks from President and CEO, Richard Hasz, and Chief Administrative Officer, Jan Weinstock, as well as a special tribute video honoring the many traits that make Howard who he is. Howard himself closed out the events, sharing how his own background led him to become the leader his is today.
As he said in his remarks, “I am very honored that Gift of Life Family House is being renamed Gift of Life Howie’s House…Some of you may wonder where that name came from. While most people know me by Howard, my family and close friends know me as Howie. It is a name that reminds me of home, growing up as a small-town kid in the safe haven of Johnstown, Pennsylvania. It is this atmosphere of comfort, warmth, and safety that we provide here for our transplant patients and families at Howie’s House.”
If you couldn’t join us, you can find photos and watch the livestream of the evening’s program and the Gift of Life Howie’s House dedication here on our Facebook page.
We would also like to thank those who have honored Howard through contributing a special gift to the Beyond Measure: The Howard M. Nathan Impact Fund. A gift to the Impact Fund supports Howard’s vision – today and into the future – for a place of affordable respite for transplant families where no one will be turned away because of inability to pay. Your support provides a lasting tribute to Howard and means a great deal to him and the families we serve. The Fund will remain open to all of those who still want to make a contribution!
Coming up on Saturday, September 26th CareDx is hosting the Allocare Transplant Festival, a fun, interactive, virtual event meant to bring together members of the transplant community during this difficult period. The event will take place from 12 – 3 p.m. ET and will feature many different activities with guests from all over the transplant community.
The festival has a full agenda of events and activities, as well as multiple contests for attendees to participate in before and during the festival! Here is a full list of the live festival agenda, as well as the pre-event contests:
Pre-Event Contests (submissions due by September 19th)
- Twitter “My Transplant Story” In 280 characters or less, tell us how the gift of organ donation changed your life for a chance to win some great prizes!
- Favorite Recipe Contest Share your go-to recipe for a chance to win a prize and have your recipe demonstrated by our guest celebrity chef!
- Talent Show entries Submit a video of your special talent! Winners will be revealed during the festival.
- Transplant Community Photo Wall Mosaic Submit a photo and be a part of the Photo Wall Mosaic that will be presented live by Peter Maag
To enter, click on the registration link below!
Live Festival Agenda
- Community Trivia Challenge Host: Amanda Nicastro – comedian and organ donor
- Talent Show Judges: Angelica Hale, America’s Got Talent runner up and kidney transplant recipient; Dorry Segev, transplant surgeon at JHU; and Merle Zuel, MerleJam founder and heart transplant recipient
- Cooking Demonstration Celebrity chef will demonstrate a version of a winning recipe, with three home chefs joining in live
- The Engaged Patient Patient Panel moderated by Osama Gaber, transplant surgeon at Houston Methodist and incoming ASTS president
- Transplant Life with Sports and Fitness Professional Athlete Panel with David Ayres, Emergency Goalie Carolina Hurricanes and transplant recipient; John Brockington, NFL – Packers and transplant recipient; and Sean Elliot, NBA – Spurs and transplant recipient.
- My Transplant Story Winners
- Photo Wall Mosaic Reveal Presented by Peter Maag
- Get Moving: Short home workout clips with professional transplant athletes
So what is CareDx? CareDx is a transplant focused company centered around providing healthcare solutions for transplant patients and caregivers both pre- and post- transplant journey. It is committed to improving transplant patient outcomes through innovative testing and is the leading partner in medicine for transplant patients.
Gift of Life Howie’s House is so excited to be partnering with CareDx for this special event. For more information and where to register, visit this website: https://bit.ly/caredxregistration
We hope to see you there!
Sunny skies and great friends coming together to support transplant families made this year’s Kidney Open Golf Outing a huge success! Thanks to our generous supporters, we were able to raise over $116,000 for Gift of Life Howie’s House!
The funds raised at this year’s Golf Outing will help us subsidize the cost of staying at the Howie’s House to keep our room fees low, and cover the costs of families who cannot afford to pay the nightly fee, making sure we never have to turn away a family due to inability to pay.
This year’s outing looked a little different than years prior, as we implemented many health and safety guidelines throughout the day and adapted the event to limit large social gatherings. Despite the obstacles, we were still able to raise much-needed funds for the Howie’s House so we can continue to support our mission of providing a “home away from home” for families undergoing the transplant journey.
As our guest speaker and past Howie’s House guest, Denise Hobbie, said during the event, “On a very tough and arduous journey, the Gift of Life Howie’s House was truly a welcome respite to me and my family.”
Whether you joined us out on the course, sponsored part of the outing, or volunteered to support our staff, we thank you for helping us provide for families like Denise’s.
We hope that you will join us next year for our 17th Annual Kidney Golf Outing!
We’d like to give a special thank you to all of our sponsors of this event! Thanks to your support, our mission to support transplant families remains strong.
2020 Kidney Open Sponsors
Main Line Health
Shot Gun Start and Dinner
Bridge to Life, Ltd
Cornerstone Asset Management
Nora – Nationwide Organ Recovery Transport Alliance
Quick Courier Service
Independence Blue Cross
Lions Eye Bank of the Delaware Valley
Organ Recovery Systems, INC.
Quick Specialized Healthcare Logistics
Sinnott Executive Consulting
Highmark Blue Cross Shield Delaware
Howard M. Nathan
Community Tissues Service
Baker Tilly Virchow Krause, LLP
Course Refreshment Stations
Lincoln Financial Group
Warner Benefits / HRAdministrators
Lincoln Financial Group
Einstein Healthcare Network
Gillespie Electric, Inc.
Closest to the Pin Contest
The Arthur Jackson Co.
Longest Drive Contest
Wye Realty Advisors
Straightest Drive Contest
Transplant Alliance Foundation
Hole-In-One Car Sponsor
Scott Honda of West Chester
Affinity Wealth Management
Dr. Linda Barrasse
C Change Surgical
Gallagher Benefit Services
Kimmel, Carter, Roman, Peltz & O’Neill
Walker Lodge #306
The Independent Order of Odd Fellows New Jersey (IOOFNJ) has been a longtime supporter of the Howie’s House mission.
Former grandmaster, late heart transplant recipient and wonderful friend Harold Delhagen connected our two missions many years ago, and since, IOOFNJ has made a real difference in the lives of transplant families.
They supported our initial capital campaign to help build the Howie’s House and open our doors by underwriting one of our guest rooms. They’ve helped transplant families who couldn’t afford our nightly fee with a contribution to our Adopt-A-Family program. Additionally, IOOFNJ has volunteered on many occasions in our kitchen to provide warm, home-cooked meals to our guests in the evenings as part of our Home Cook Heroes program.
Most recently, they generously committed to a multi-year sponsorship of our shuttle program to help bring transplant patients and their family members back and forth from Philadelphia hospitals and the Howie’s House.
This contribution to our mission helps provide a much-needed service to our guests so they don’t have to navigate an unfamiliar city alone or pay expensive parking fees while caring for a loved one undergoing the transplant process.
In 2019 alone, their support helped us travel over 16,000 miles to provide more than 1,100 trips to and from Philadelphia hospitals and the Howie’s House!
IOOFNJ is an organization based on the foundations of Friendship, Love and Truth, and seeks to make our world a better one to live in through charitable work on various projects in their community.
We are so grateful for their support and look forward to serving transplant families with them in the future!
Theresa had considered herself knowledgeable about organ and tissue donation after seeing how it worked as a respiratory therapist, but when her co-worker’s granddaughter passed away and became an organ donor, she was inspired to learn more about the process.
After learning about the Howie’s House through a Gift of Life presentation, she and her family held a fundraiser to support our mission to care for transplant families. They also signed up to participate in our Home Cook Heroes program under the team name “Team Shea” as a tribute to her co-worker’s granddaughter.
“We had such a great time cooking meals for these families…and we’ve been volunteering ever since!” Theresa says.
Since her team’s initial visit in 2017, they’ve been back several times and have earned an All-Stars a plate on our wall.
Joining Theresa in our kitchen are her children and her grandkids. They prepare comforting meals like shepherd’s pie and meatballs and ziti. Sometimes they serve fun, interactive meals like “Walk-Around Tacos” where guests can create their own taco salads in a Frito’s bag.
Along with dinner, Team Shea brings games and gives guests a chance to win items like puzzle books, decks of cards, paperback books, or candy.
“We figured some of these items could make their time waiting a little easier,” Theresa adds. “No matter how bad a day they may have had, the Howie’s House guests are so nice and appreciative. It’s amazing.”
Team Shea also provides dessert!
“One time, a guest asked me if he could bring some extra cookies to his wife in the hospital to cheer her up,” Theresa says. “It amazed me that something Team Shea did—something so little—would make his wife’s time in the hospital a little bit better.”
Volunteers like Team Shea are such a vital part of our mission. Their hard work and dedication in our kitchen help us welcome transplant families home and lessen their burden of worrying about what to eat or where to get it after a long day.
Theresa hopes other people will become inspired to learn about the Howie’s House and its Home Cook Heroes program.
“People should go to the Howie’s House to see what it’s like and donate their time,” she says. “The staff tries so hard to make the guests feel as comfortable as possible. It’s even better than I imagined it to be.”
When Ashley saw a Facebook post about an ill member of her church family in need of a life-saving liver transplant, she couldn’t just scroll past it. “I felt this tug on my heart,” she says. “I felt like this was absolutely something I was supposed to do.”
Ashley was going to see if she could donate a portion of her liver. After testing, she was approved and thankful for the opportunity to save another’s life as a living-donor.
Ashley traveled 800 miles from where she was living in Atlanta, GA to Philadelphia, PA for the surgery. “I did a lot of research about the area and what places were available for living-donors to stay after surgery,” she says. “That’s how I found out about the Gift of Life Howie’s House.”
She checked in to the House the night before her surgery and returned when she was discharged from the hospital to recover.
While Ashley was in Philadelphia, she had many people supporting her who were also able to stay at the Gift of Life Howie’s House.
“Another woman from my church, Sheila, became my support person,” Ashley says. “While I was in the hospital, the House was an invaluable resource for her. When she was not with me, she was able to come back to shower, rest, and eat. She took advantage of the shuttle during this time and this was a huge blessing to her as she was not quite comfortable taking a taxi by herself.”
“I loved how friendly the staff was, how neat and clean the home was, and that they offered home-cooked meals in the evenings,” Sheila says. “I also loved being able to talk to other families about their loved ones.”
Sheila flew back home when Ashley was discharged. Ashley was able to have others visit the House to support her.
“The Gift of Life Howie’s House made the recovery easier. I was able to make friends with others on a transplant journey and this made me feel less alone and truly understood,” Ashley adds. “What they are doing to help transplant families is beautiful and more helpful than they may ever know.”
Ashley successfully became a living-donor and formed a close relationship with her recipient, Denice.
“My recipient and her family consider me family, and she calls me her ‘liver sister.’ Several months after our surgeries, she got to be present when her great-grandson was born. I have so loved seeing how she is living out her second chance at life!”
“I feel very blessed to have a living-donor,” says Denice. “I never feel like I could do enough to show how much she has given back to me. I can go places on my own and not worry about forgetting where I am. Ashley is one of the easiest people to talk to and is always willing to help anyone she can.”
“Before my experience, I knew very little about organ donation or the importance of it,” Ashley says. “Going through this brought me together with others going through similar experiences and it really opened my eyes to how many people are out there waiting for a life-saving transplant. I did have some friends and family who weren’t as comfortable, but I just continued to talk with them about the importance of donating and what the process was going to look like for me. I would want people to know it’s really not as scary as it sounds! I’m three and a half years post-op and I live a normal, healthy life.”
On Thursday, October 3rd, NASCAR driver Joey Gase visited Gift of Life Howie’s House, inviting us to take part in his outreach to educate millions of NASCAR fans worldwide about the life-saving importance of organ and tissue donation.
As part of his Hand Prints of Hope event, 50 members of the transplant community covered the hood of Joey’s racecar with hand prints and special messages which he raced that weekend during the NASCAR Xfinity Series at Dover International Speedway in Dover, DE. NASCAR fans were drawn to the colorful hand prints, messages, and the Gift of Life Donor Program logo in the center.
“It turns a ton of heads at the race track. When people see the hand prints all over the car, they want to come up and ask us about it and we get to tell them,” Gase, 26, said during his speech at the event.
When Joey was 18 years old, his mother, Mary, passed away of a sudden brain aneurism and was an organ donor. She was able to save and transform the lives of 66 people.
“Ever since that day, I wanted to do whatever I could to help raise awareness for organ donation and honor all those affected by it,” he said. “It’s not easy for the recipients, those on the waitlist, or the donor families. There are over 110,000 people on the waitlist nationwide and I want to do whatever I can to get that down to zero.”
We thank Joey and his team at Joey Gase Racing for their advocacy and support, and our friends at Medline for sponsoring this event!
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Nicole’s Journey – Celebrating 2 Years!
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Hand Prints of Hope
NASRCAR's Joey Gase visited the Howie's House to help raise awareness of organ and tissue donation.
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